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Kliegl System 70 question...

Discussion in 'Technical Theatre History' started by Scenemaster60, Mar 15, 2016.

  1. Scenemaster60

    Scenemaster60 Active Member

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    OK, I am intrigued

    I am a self-professed lighting history geek. In the last few weeks I have posted some interesting historical stuff that has garnered mild interest.

    But in some independent research I have done, I have learned that Kliegl system 70 MAY have been one of the projects that brought down the lighting giant of the mid-century. Can anyone confirm or deny?

    Of course, that and the K96 dimmer...

    Joel Rubin, Gordan Pearlman, Anne Valentino...
     
  2. derekleffew

    derekleffew Resident Curmudgeon Senior Team Premium Member

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    I thought I knew Kliegl Bros. fairly well, and have never heard of System 70 (nor has, apparently, the Internet, save for a sole mention in the Joel Rubin archives at Ohio State Univ.). As I recall, the company didn't cease operation until the mid-1990s. Sure, they didn't have any real market share the last ten years, but still.

    So tell us more about the mysterious "Kliegl System 70".

    And I both liked and felt sorry for the K96 dimmer--just too far ahead of its time, and (typical for Kliegl) too proprietary.

    EDIT: From http://www.artecconsultants.com/04_personnel/press/joel_rubin_life_in_theatre.html :
     
    Last edited: Mar 15, 2016
  3. Scenemaster60

    Scenemaster60 Active Member

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    I mis-spoke about "System 70" being one of the things that brought Kliegl down.
    It is, however an interesting little story in itself. I am not sure of the exact timeline, but this is what I have been able to find out:

    Thorn introduced the Q-file in about 1973 and Kliegl became the US distributer/agent. Gordon Perlman and Steve Carlson developed Performance for Kliegl which was introduced in 1978. In Robert Bell's "Let There Be Light..." interview with Gordon Pearlman, Gordon said:
    Untitled.png

    The only other mention of this that I have ever come across is on the back of a Kliegl mini-catalog from what I presume is the early 1970s:

    Scan 1.jpeg
     
  4. SteveB

    SteveB Well-Known Member

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    There were at least 2 of these at SUNY Purchase when I was briefly a student -1978-1979. Nice consoles as I recall.
     

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  5. MPowers

    MPowers Well-Known Member

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    I still recall being part of the (? first?) Kliegl computer installation in the US at Indiana U. Bloomington while in grad school. 1970 IIRC, huge desk console but only a few sliders. had to enter each dimmer separately, @ level, record, repeat for every dimmer. I was never a board op so I'm not sure about exact details. If anyone knows a Joan Sullivan, she was the grad student that became the expert on that board, she could make it work when no one else could. There were a lot of glitches, unexpected blackouts, garbled cues etc. , that turned out to be several thousand cold solders in discrete components (very few if any IC's then). Kligel knew they had problems, I was the fly on the wall in an elevator ride at the USITT conf in Boston (?late 80's early 90's ? can't remember) Joel Ruben, Jo Mielziner and a couple other big wigs got on the hotel elevator behind me. During the ride I overheard Meilziner say to Joel, " Face it Joel, you've got the worst "C" clamp in the business!" and Joel looked back and said "I know!" I could tell be the tone of his voice, he knew the company was in deep s*#@* and he didn't know how to climb out. The long slide started in the late '60's. After I got back from Nam, I was finishing my undergrad work at OCU ( Oklahoma City University) and during my time in service they had built a new theatre. The new instruments were all Klieg. There were 3", 6" and 8" ellipsoidals, (we called them all "Leko's" because "Leko", to us meant Ellipsoidal Stage Lighting Instrument.). The Klieg units were among the very first "Quartz light" units, what today we all call tungsten-Halogen or just Halogen. The filaments were a single coiled coil. The 3" Leko's used a double ended lamp, the 6" and 8" (IIRC) used single ended inverted lamps. The early quartz lamp filaments were VERY fragile after the initial burn in of 2-3 minutes. After that they became very brittle. So moving a unit after burn in was a problem. The 3" units were the bane of our existence! To replace a lamp, the housing hinged in the middle and the reflector split. The back or lamp half hinged open and the back part of the reflector vaguely resembled a butterfly. If you picture the reflector as the butterfly's wings, the double ended lamp would be the body. The first problem was that the reflector was only connected by a couple of points and removing or inserting a lamp was guaranteed to bend the back part of the reflector. In addition, as a lamp filament was not a true point source of light, various manufacturers had developed flatted and double flatted reflectors to adjust for this issue. Kliegl did not, they went for the manufacturing expediency and $$ saving of using a spun reflector. The spun reflector was a truer ellipsoidal shape, but as the light source was not a true point source, the spun reflector was a poor choice. Anyway, almost every time we had to move an instrument we would have to put in a new lamp. The 3" units also needed frequent "re-bending " of the reflector to get a clean beam. Bottom line, Kliegl was very slow to respond to industry changes and the needs of the personnel using the equipment at a time when rapid change was the norm. And this was all before the explosion of moving lights, LED sources, etc.
     
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  6. JChenault

    JChenault Well-Known Member

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    I agree about John Kliegl III probably being the reason Kliegl failed. He gave jobs to relatives who (IMHO) were not terribly suited to the job. Joel once told me the story of how John, when he took over the company) cleared out / threw out years of history. I did not see a vision from John about where the company needed to go long term while I was there.

    Kliegl had a dominant position in the industry. One project disaster would not have killed a healthy company.

    As to the system 70 it was just way ahead of its time. ( before my time there, but this was the story as I remember) Pre computers. Fader handles that followed what the dimmers were doing driven by ( I think) cables. The final straw was when they did a demo for rhe met. Mid demo one of the pillow blocks failed and the whole thing just became a tangled mess.

    One hopeful sign about ETC is that ( as I understand ) they are trying to move beyond being a family company. Bodes well for their future.
     
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